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Work Life: Age Limits

(Originally published on August 17,  2011; reprints previous original material published in this section)

By Jhoanna O. Gan-So

When you are young and free, your career possibilities are endless. Opportunities abound. You can experiment a bit and hopefully find a career that is best suited for you.

As you grow older, however, your choices begin to shape your career and you’ll find yourself in a set line of work. By the time you are in your late thirties, you’ve gained enough knowledge in your chosen field and you should ideally be moving upwards in your industry.

This is also the time when you would have already taken on more of life’s responsibilities. You may have gotten married and begun to have children. You may need to take care of ailing parents or other siblings. All of these are reasons why you want to work to provide well for your family.

But what if, all of a sudden, you find yourself longing for a change of career? Or what if life suddenly threw you a curveball and you find yourself out of work and in need of a new job?

You then open Manila Bulletin’s classified ads section. You look for job listings that are suitable for your knowledge and experience since you want to capitalize on what you’ve mastered in the last decade. You find a couple of job advertisements that suit you.

Good reputable company, check.

Good position, check.

Skills required, check.

Competitive compensation and benefits, check.

You’ve found your next job…but wait! It says in the job ad that the age requirement is from 25 to 35 years old. And you’ve just celebrated your 40th birthday. Bummer. You then look at other job ads and notice a similar pattern. There is an age limit specified in the job ads. You’re way above the age limit.  You then start wondering exactly what another reader questioned in this letter:

I’m an engineer by profession and I also finished EMBA. I currently work overseas for a power plant. The pay is good and knowledge advancement is great. However, I miss home and have been exploring the possibility of coming back for good. I’ve been looking at job advertisements, but I have noticed age limitations that are, well, limiting. We say that experience plays a big part in true learning, and you can acquire this through years of working as you also age. As I browsed job listings, I saw that I am qualified for most of the openings, but I always end up frustrated because of the age requirement. So I have a few questions regarding this issue: Is the age limit mandatory as a minimum requirement for all hiring companies? Does HR have an influence on this? Is this what we call “Equal Opportunity”? I hope you can enlighten me.—A Mature Engineer

My Response:

Before HR practitioners post job advertisements, they usually conduct a job analysis wherein they try to define the required skills, competencies and scope of work needed for the position. They also determine what age range and, sometimes, even the gender the manager in need of staffing prefers so that they will have a clear set of criteria for recruitment. As much as possible, HR confers with the manager on his or her preference since s/he will be the one working directly with the new hire.

Although age limitations and gender specification do not exactly reflect the ideals of  equal opportunity, which has been made into law by some first world countries, it is commonly practiced in our country for practical purposes.

From an employer’s point of view, younger employees are seen as less costly and tend to demand lower compensation because they do not have that many family obligations or medical health problems yet. They also have more years ahead, so investing in their training offers the chance for longer service time. On the other hand, some companies are also aware that older and veteran workers have more experience and knowledge. They have already been trained by their previous employers. They have first-hand practical experience and are usually more emotionally mature to handle work concerns and issues.

In the end, it really depends on the company’s culture, needs and financial capacity. Some companies have strict age requirements while others are more flexible. If they can afford to, they hire veterans for higher positions; if they cannot, they get consultants to help out and train their younger work force.

I understand how difficult it is for older people to find jobs. Usually, the older you become and the higher your position gets, the opportunities seem to get narrower. But older people still have a lot of options. You just have to go out of your comfort zone, think outside the box, and explore other ways to pursue your career.

Stay tuned for my next article to get ideas on how to conquer age limits. Meanwhile, you can read up on past articles at http://hrclubonline.blogspot.com/.

 

Jhoanna O. Gan -So is president of Businessmaker Academy, HR Club Philippines and Teach It Forward Organization. Her company holds corporate skills training programs and HR seminars for various individuals and corporations. To know more about the seminars and services that they offer, visit http://www.businessmaker-academy.com or http://www.hrclubphilippines.com. You may also call (632)6874645 or e-mail your comments and questions to mbworklife@gmail.com.

 

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

 

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Classifieds Classic: Networking Basics

(Originally published on Sunday, July 18, 2010; reprints previous original material published in this section.)

For every career professional, most especially entrepreneurs, networking is a skill that is definitely indispensable. In this fast-paced modern world where people often need to work together in loose partnerships in order to achieve their goals at the soonest possible time, the ability to know, develop, and maintain a network of and positive relationships with business contacts is surely a more important pursuit than ever.

Professional networking is defined as meeting and connecting with other people and getting to know their abilities and interests in the hopes that this may help each other acquire mutual benefit especially in the business aspect. To put it simply, it means talking to people who can help you get things done.

People who know the value of having not just broad but strong networks get things done more quickly and effectively. They learn from each other’s different knowledge or experience which help them do better in their careers. For those who are still in the process of building a new career, they are able to use their network as they seek to move on — whether it is a planned switch or brought about by a sudden career crisis.

Fortunately, networking is not that much of a hard task as long as you are patient. As a part of your professional progress, it can be one that is both enjoyable and rewarding if done properly. You might even be a part of numerous networks already without realizing it. It is only a matter of identifying the mutual benefits that can bring both parties and building from that point on.

So, how do you begin creating this much-needed asset? Here’s how to start and pump up your professional network.

Make a list of people whom you can talk to. People in your list need not necessarily be a personal friend or an acquaintance. They could be anyone who you believe you have enough of a common interest with to be able to initiate a conversation or someone whom is friends with someone you know. Keep in mind that all you need is a connection that would allow you to call and say who you are, obtain a nod of recognition and approval that there is indeed a connection between the two of you, and ask for specific details, information, and introductions.

Your possible contacts may include the following:

* Personal contacts – Your friends, acquaintances, neighbors, relatives, church members, classmates, professors, club or organization members, alumni or former schoolmates.

* Professional contacts – Your employers, supervisors, managers, colleagues, subordinates, clients, customers, fellow association members.

* Internet contacts – Any personal and professional contact that you might be able to get in touch with through electronic mail. Subscribers to mailing lists you participate in can also be included.

* Online social network contacts. Social networking such as Friendster, Multiply, and Facebook is a trend nowadays. You can definitely make use of your online contacts as long as you know that they are trustworthy in handling the transactions you need.

* All the people your contacts know. Just as you have hundreds or even thousands of people connected in your network, so each person is also connected to others. In case you need to get in touch with a contact of your contact, you can easily do so through referrals.

Maintain a give-and-take relationship. Probably one of the biggest flaws you can commit in your networking pursuit is to constantly ask for help or expect something in return every time you interact with them. Furthermore, avoid making it your initial point of contact whenever you meet or talk to someone for the very first time. For example, you do not directly approach someone and ask for a job; rather, you should seek for advice, leads, and suggestions.

Build your network ahead before you need it. It is important to invest in your network even before you actually need it. Building a beneficial professional network may take a lot of time. After all, you do not easily gain other people’s trust especially when you come to them and ask for something. Therefore, even before the situation calls for it, it would be more advantageous if you know that you already have someone whom you can turn to and assist you in times of career-oriented needs.

( Get more networking tips next Sunday: learn how to build your network even if you’re shy!)

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Out of the Box Job Search Strategies

(Originally published on Sunday, July 11, 2010)

Been rejected over and over? Maybe you’re looking in the wrong places

Not everyone who began a job search last February has a job now, and chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve been rejected, or want to find a better job than the one you have. We looked over the Classifieds’ archives over the past two years and picked out the best strategies for you that go beyond the usual job search strategies.

  1. Don’t let panic overwhelm you. If you allow yourself to develop a negative mindset—no one will hire me, I’m not qualified, I’m not good enough—then you condition yourself for failure. You need to prepare yourself for success, mentally and physically.
  2. Use your head! Too many jobseekers blindly send resumes everywhere without any thought for what they’re doing or any aim in mind; we’ve received our fair share of misdirected mail at the Classifieds, resumes from people who think we can find them jobs. No one will find a job for you; do it yourself. Also, do an intelligent job search: read job ads in the Classifieds, online, in flyers, and in brochures carefully. Nothing gets your resume tossed out faster than not following directions; in fact, some companies give complicated directions to weed out those with poor reading comprehension.
  3. Leave no stone unturned. Jobs won’t come to you. Search everywhere, use your network, advertise yourself. Make your Facebook or Multiply work for you; let people know you’re looking for a job. Scour the Classifieds (naturally), haunt Internet job listing sites, look at trade websites for your chosen career field, and check out the “Careers” section of the websites of the companies you want to work for. Just look for that hyperlinked word usually seen at the top or bottom part of the website that says “jobs” or “career” and click away. If you don’t know how to use the internet, you should learn now, because that’s a crucial skill if you want a good job. Just be careful as to what you post; if your Facebook has racy photos or questionable comments, open a ‘clean’ account for jobseeking. Sometimes, it’s not only the people you already know but the people you get to know. Public transportation is a good place to find opportunities. Weird as it may seem but you might be sitting next to your future employer. All those long journeys can lead to conversations and those conversations may lead to job offerings. Plus, some employers post job ads in the MRT, in jeeps and in buses; be sure to be ready to take these down.
  4. Put out the word. Tell these people about your job search or ask them if they know of available jobs: online social network friends (Facebook, Friendster, etc.); your school career counselor and alumni office (even if you are a graduate!); parents, friends, and relatives; “orgmates,” fraternity brothers or sorority sisters; former teachers; and the company you did an internship for.
  5. You want a job? Get more aggressive. There are hundreds of fresh graduates, thousands who were laid off, and those looking to change careers competing with you. Revise your resume; visit companies personally; do your research.
  6. Be prepared to walk a lot and move. Attend job fairs; there’s usually one going on in malls and schools every week. Some companies prefer to see the people who apply for them and can be better inclined towards those who’ve taken the time to apply in person. Be sure that while your clothes are comfortable, they are also presentable enough just in case you’re interviewed on the spot. Be sure to bring a towel and a change of shirt/blouse.
  7. Keep an open mind. Be flexible enough to accept a job offer outside your chosen field; say, if you want to be a call center employee, and you get an offer from a small firm, remember that your chances of upward mobility are higher in a small firm even though the pay may be smaller. You can use that job as a stepping stone to what you really want, or create your dream job from there.
  8. Be polite. A lot of jobseekers get their resumes tossed out when they act like prima donnas (“You be careful with my resume ha?” said in a condescending tone to a recruiter) or are just plain rude (“Hoy, dito ba ang HR? [Hey you, is this the HR department?]” asked of the HR receptionist). First impressions last, and there is no excuse for behaving like a brat at any point in your career—whether jobseeking or when you’re already in a job. Say “please” “po” and “thank you” whenever necessary—those simple words go a long way.
  9. Make sure you are available. Keep your phone on; check your email daily. If you ignore a text message or an email from an employer, remember that there is always someone more eager than you who won’t.

10. Look in the places people don’t normally look for jobs. These include your barangay hall and church bulletin boards. Even if jobs are not posted there, they often have free seminars you can take advantage of to improve your skills.  (Compiled and edited by C. F. BOBIS)

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C.F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Tables 3 & 4: Checklists for Jobseekers

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)

By C . F. BOBIS

A Job Search Checklist

Job search coach Brian Bowman says, “The job search process involves a lot of planning and attention to detail, so it’s no wonder that many people quickly feel overwhelmed and even a bit out of control. The best way to avoid this is to organize your job search so that you have a clear strategy outline and a structured schedule to keep you moving forward.”

To help you get started, here are job search checklists for you:

Job Hunt Materials:

  • A notebook you can carry around
  • Pencils, ballpens, erasers, red markers, highlighters
  • An envelope where you can store advertisements/want ads you’re interested in
  • Scissors, paste
  • Printer; if no PC or printer at home, USB flash drive for storing resume, cover letters, and other vital documents
  • Current photo in office attire
  • Copies of my resume in a waterproof envelope

List of Job Search Strategies

  • Check the Manila Bulletin Classified Ads every day
  • Check job sites and company sites on the internet, and deposit resume in sites you like
  • Announce to family, friends, and connections on Facebook and other social networking sites that you’re looking for a job
  • Other:

Action Plan (Use one checklist per potential employer)

  • Resume
  • Cover letter tailored for company
    • Find out contact person
    • Submit resume and cover letter
    • Notes: (List here if they’ve called you, asked you for additional requirements, etc.)

My Daily Job Hunt Schedule

Date:

  • Touch base with a family member, friend, or other contact via SMS or the Internet to catch up with them and let them know I’m looking for a job
  • Check the Classifieds for free training sessions I can attend
  • Check the Classifieds for job openings I’m interested in
  • Do research on companies I’m interested in
  • Customize resume and cover letter for target companies
  • Other:

Target Company File (One page per company)

  • Name of company
  • Address
  • Contact number
  • Background data
  • Contact person/s
  • Job opening/s
  • Resume and cover sent?
  • Interview?
  • Additional notes

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Creating Opportunities in Adversity

(Originally published on Sunday, June 20, 2010)

By C. F. BOBIS

Make your own good news by adapting your job search

If you’ve kept an eye on the news, the April 2010 Labor Force Survey (LFS) recently released by the National Statistics Office tells us that the unemployment rate has increased (see charts included with this article). But remember that there is always a way to turn things to your advantage.

Take the LFS results. If you read carefully, you’ll see that the jobs are in the services sector (making a culture of good customer of vital importance—something we’ll tackle). They will tell you that you have a better chance of being employed as a full-time laborer or unskilled worker at a private company, and if you’re a woman and/or you have a college degree.

So how can you increase your chances of getting a good job? Over the two years the Classifieds have been around, here are the best tips that have appeared on these pages:

1. Finish your education. Though over 40% of those unemployed have college degrees, remember that the survey includes fresh graduates. The jobs with higher starting salaries and greater room for promotions are most often open to those with college degrees.

2. Approach your job search differently and learn to be both flexible and creative. Be prepared to have to do more to find a job, and be willing to take a long hard look at your options. Remember, if you aren’t flexible and creative, there’s always someone else out there who is willing to be, and who will land the job ahead of you.

3. Now is the time to network. Why not let your Facebook, Multiply, and/or Friendster connections know you’re searching for a job? (Just be sure your account isn’t filled with photos and/or comments that make you look silly, unprofessional, or cast you in a bad light.) Don’t forget alumni associations for your school, past bosses and colleagues, even the people you interned for in your last year of college. Just two things to remember: Make a personal connection; be prepared to help the other person in turn, and be sincere.

4. Be armed. Improve your resume by updating it with job-oriented achievements instead of a mere list of work experiences, and reformatting it, if necessary. Ask for letters of reference now, and inform other references that you have listed them as such. Tailor your cover letter to specific companies you’re applying for, the better to show your suitability for a particular job. And why not get your employment requirements now? (See list of pre-employment requirements below.)

5. Be willing to work outside your comfort zone and to train in new skills. The good news is that new jobs in different growing fields, particularly in the BPO sector and in IT, are opening up to those who are willing to work outside their comfort zone and learn new things. Richard Nelson Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?’’ He advises jobseekers to be receptive to the idea that in the future they may be working “in the service of new technologies,’’ he said. To prepare for this, why not take advantage of free training offered by institutions like the Philippine Trade Training Center or PTTC hold free training sessions (the last Friday of the month, and it’s listed in the Classified Calendar) to upgrade your skills?

5. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Consider jobs you weren’t sure you wanted to apply for. Take a few risks. Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer for Adecco, a staffing company, suggests that jobseekers make a list of what you need to do each day (see the sample list on this page), and “try to keep your emotions separate from the tasks of the day… This is not the time to say, ‘Well, there aren’t any jobs out there, so I won’t look,’ ” she says. Bolles adds that with the right attitude, job seekers “can often turn this crisis into a real advantage for themselves” by moving their life in a new and more fulfilling direction” so that they can look back and realize that “this is the best thing that ever happened to me.’’

6. Be willing to go outside your comfort zone. Don’t just look for the same job over and over. Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer for Adecco, a staffing company, advises jobseekers It is time to think harder about transferring the skills you have or acquiring new ones to move into a new type of job or industry.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and C. F. Bobis. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Efficient Job Searches

(Originally published on Sunday, May 2, 2010)

Tips and tricks on how to perform and manage your job search online

While summer traditionally means vacations, it turns out that many Filipinos take advantage of the season to look for jobs. A quick look at Google Insights for Search (www.google.com.ph/insights/search), a tool that enables people to know more about what Filipinos search for on Google.com.ph, reveals that searches for jobs in the Philippines typically spike between March and May, likely due to the large numbers of fresh college graduates trying to find their first job.

Filipinos are also the top searchers for job hunting worldwide, which may partially explain the country’s relatively low unemployment rate of 7.5%.

The latest Job Availability Index, using data from an online job portal, shows a 4.7% increase in job vacancies posted online between January this year and the same period last year. With so much competition for jobs, it becomes more important than ever to be a tech savvy job-hunter. There are many web tools out there that can help you find—and land—your dream job. Here are a few tips:

1.      Search smarter

Use search engines wisely and make sure to be as specific as possible when doing job-related searches. Search engines allow you to look for geography-specific information, such as for pages from only the Philippines, and even to those that are written in Filipino only. It helps to define the function and area you wish to target, so for instance, “IT jobs Cebu City” will be more useful than just the generic term “jobs.” Take advantage of suggested terms that search engines provide which may help narrow down your search results. Operators are also a great way to narrow your search. For instance, use double quotation marks if you are only searching for a specific word or phrase (“freelance jobs”), or the minus sign “-” if you wish to exclude a specific word associated with your search (ex. freelance jobs -manila, if you’re not interested in job listings from Manila).

2.      Remember the good ones

Once you’ve found web pages, blog posts, and forum discussions that contain the job hunting information you need, save them as bookmarks in your Internet browser and arrange them in folders for easy access.  Keep your information secure and make sure to sign out of your web accounts and clear your cache especially when in Internet cafes.

3.      Keep yourself posted

Get regular emails on job listings by signing up for job-related alerts through an alerts tool that most news aggregators and search engines offer. Select keywords you’re interested in (e.g. “sales manager Manila”) and have these alerts delivered directly to your inbox or your RSS feed reader, so you can beat out other job hunters when it comes to applying for these jobs immediately.

4.      Check your email regularly

Email is now the primary method of communication between recruiters and candidates, and yet many of us still forget to check our emails regularly. Make it a habit and allocate a specific time to check if there are any responses to your applications. Acknowledge receiving these emails with a short confirmation, and after the interview, send a quick email thank you note to your interviewers as a matter of etiquette.

Also, while you want your personality to be remembered by companies, you don’t want to be notorious because of an unprofessional-sounding email like hotchick345@email.com. When in doubt, just use your given name and surname as your email address.

5.      Get some help

Managing job applications can be daunting, and it may help to use an email program that is very good at managing the flow of information. Gmail, for instance, has Gmail Labs, which are features you could use to customize your job hunting experience online. Useful features include the Forgotten Attachment Detector, to ensure your resume is always attached, Quick Links to your bookmarked pages, Superstars to identify job-related e-mails, and even Undo Send in case you accidentally forward a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) email to a recruiter. To access Gmail Labs, sign in to your Gmail account and click the Labs icon beside the Settings tab on the top-right corner.

6.      Update your resume and write your cover letters

Your CV is your first step to being noticed, and there’s nothing more off-putting to a recruiter than getting an outdated one, or a cover letter that’s addressed to the HR head of a competing company. Getting a second pair of eyes to proofread your CV and cover letters is essential. Make sharing easier by uploading them onto a web-based document editor like Google Docs (www.google.com/docs), an online word processor that enables real-time collaboration between several people on the same document. With every change and comment you make automatically saved, you never have to worry about managing multiple versions of the same document again. And while you’re at it, you might want to try your hand at video resumes, another way for you to distinguish yourself from the job pool. Watch some and then upload your own to YouTube (www.youtube.com).

7.      Put your name out there

Being tech-savvy is a plus in today’s job-hunting environment. Why not go the extra mile and create a website or a blog with your updated resume, portfolio, and recommendations? Social networking profiles are also a must nowadays if you want to get in touch with folks in your target industry. Recruiters are known to use certain social networking sites to find suitable candidates for jobs they need to fill. Get recommendations from current and previous associates and post them online, and provide samples of your work, if possible. Remember to publicly post only appropriate material that you would want your future employer to see.

8.      Make an appointment

Got the coveted interview? Make sure you’re on time by marking it on an online calendar, which has numerous advantages over the old paper organizer. You can create SMS alerts for appointments, add new entries from any computer or mobile phone and share your calendar with peers so that they don’t book you on a time slot reserved for your interview. On your calendar entry, make sure to list down the things you need to bring (resume, portfolio), the clothes you’ll be wearing (corporate or business casual), and information about the location, the interviewer, and the company.

9.     Do your research

Many candidates simultaneously apply to dozens of jobs and end up spouting generic bits of information when asked during an interview why they’d like to work for the company. That’s the surest way to failure. Before your interview, make sure you read up on the the latest news about the company lest you get caught by surprise. Find out their core and extended services so that you can sound knowledgeable and passionate about the company.

10.  Know where you’re going

Now that you know your interview schedule, make sure you know how to get to the location of your interview. Nowadays, digital maps can save you from getting lost. Google Maps (www.google.com/maps), for instance, has a very comprehensive map of major cities in the Philippines. It also lets you look up names of places and street addresses so that you can plot your route, make and print your own maps, and get exact driving directions to your interview–all from any computer or smartphone.

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin 2010. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of copyright holders.)

Wide World of Work – Hiring the overqualified: Special handling can pay

(Originally published on Sunday, April 25, 2010)

By L.M. SIXEL

A common complaint among job seekers is that they didn’t get hired because they were overqualified. Now it turns out that may be a good reason.

A graduate student at the University of Houston in industrial organizational psychology found that overqualified employees who aren’t given enough to do get bored and cynical.

They figure the job is a waste of their skills and education, doctoral student Aleksandra Luksyte said. That, in turn, leads to counterproductive behaviors, she said, including surfing the Internet, playing jokes on co-workers, taking company property and having long personal calls on company time.

Luksyte studied 215 psychology students who also work full time in a wide variety of jobs, including as legal assistants and in health care, fast food, retail and management.

She asked whether they believe they are overqualified and put the same question to their supervisors in an anonymous survey. There was strong agreement among managers, she said, that they saw signs of burnout.

Norman York, president of York Career Development in Houston, believes the problem stems more from a poor fit than anything else. Employers need to find the right people for the job, said York, whose firm coaches individual and corporate clients.

He finds the same burnout problem among employees who have worked the same job for a long time and essentially become overqualified for the position.

“People sort of outlive their value,” York said, and their usefulness may diminish.

The turnover issue

Employers are often reluctant to hire overqualified employees, said Luksyte, who with the help of her adviser, associate professor Christiane Spitzm?ller, is preparing the master’s thesis for a journal article. They worry employees will leave as soon as they find something better.

While that’s true — overqualified workers do tend to have higher turnover rates — they also often are efficient and effective.

The key is to give them extra duties that use their skills, such as mentoring new employees, or offering training opportunities for advancement, Luksyte said.

“Don’t avoid them,” she said. “You just have to maximize what they have.”

An exciting workplace

It’s also important to provide an exciting workplace, she said. If overqualified employees are satisfied with their work situation — they work with bright co-workers or the atmosphere is great — they’ll tend to stay.

Employers must have an upward mobility plan in mind when hiring someone who’s overqualified, said John W. Allen, president of G&A Partners, a Houston-based human resources outsourcing firm with 300 clients and 50,000 work-site employees.

They have to understand the reality that an overqualified employee will begin looking for something more challenging or a job that pays better, he said.

While it may be better to have the skills and talent from an outstanding employee for even a short period, it’s best to have a plan in place to move the employee into a better job or with greater responsibility.

Luksyte, who grew up in Lithuania, was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California Berkeley before she arrived at the University of Houston.

She got the idea of researching overqualified employees when her husband came home every night complaining about a boring project he was assigned. The software engineer was essentially cutting and pasting, and he was about to lose his mind. Luksyte also noticed that he was cruising the Internet, chatting on the phone and generally wasting time — activities that are not typical of him when he’s involved in an exciting project.

She looked up the subject in the scientific literature and found little. Now that she’s searching for a doctoral subject, Luksyte said, she’s back to quizzing her husband on what’s going on at work. (NYT-c. 2010 Houston Chronicle)

(All rights reserved. Copyright Manila Bulletin and The New York Times. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.)

Classified Cubicle – Employer Wisdom: More hiring tips from friendly companies

(Originally published on Sunday, April 25, 2010)

By C.F. BOBIS

Recently the Classifieds had the opportunity to talk to Ramona “Dot” F. Velasco, senior executive and human resources lead, delivery center network (DCN) for technology, Accenture Delivery Centers in the Philippines. Her career spans 20 years of experience, which includes 9 years as a systems developer and more than 10 years in HR.

Interestingly, Velasco graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, major in Mathematics, and her career seems to show how you can carve your own path out at business process outsourcing centers in the country. Her company, Accenture, is one of the world’s leading management consulting, technology services and outsourcing companies, with more than 177,000 people in 120 countries. Here, she shares answers to some of the most common questions Classifieds readers ask.

What are the job openings you need to fill most often? What are the duties under these jobs, and what are the qualifications for them? What do you look for in an applicant?

We have many opportunities for fresh graduates. For BPO, we need a lot of entry-level recruits for customer contact BPO, as well as for non voice BPO projects, such as health administration and insurance. We also have various openings for accountants in all levels for our Finance and Accounting BPO projects.

For our Technology workforce, we are looking for entry-level and qualified programmers and software testing professionals.

Talent comes in many forms and from many backgrounds. Each project has its own set of qualifications but generally, we look for bright and energetic people with a great appetite for learning. Accenture has always been known for its high standards but  intelligence alone does not determine success in our company, but a combination of intelligence, work ethic, guts and the flexibility to work with diverse people.

Do you have pet peeves when it comes to job applicants?

As we consider them our customers, we treat all our applicants equally. It’s not good to have so-called pet peeves about jobseekers.

Can you share any funny or unique stories (brilliant application strategies, memorably bad applicants) with us?

Memorably good – We interviewed, through an interpreter, and hired two hearing impaired people who will soon become our regular employees. They do payroll processing for our Global Service Center Organization (GSCO) and communicate mainly through e-mail and Office Communicator.  To help the rest of the GSCO team adjust to working with their hearing-impaired teammates, HR had them go through a special orientation and sign language classes

Memorably bad – We interviewed a sales director who didn’t know her company’s sales targets and forecasts, which left us wondering how she can be an asset to any company!

A lot of jobseekers fail at the interview portion; based on your experience, could you give tips to them with regard to how to answer questions, how to dress, and how to conduct themselves?

The interviewer has to make a good and informed decision based on the candidate’s performance during the interview. A job interview is not a game where you must score points or are eliminated when you make a mistake. A good interviewer sees through what an applicant says or does and makes a good decision based on a person’s potential to do well in the company.

Having said that, there are few tips we can give applicants, except to be yourself and be honest. Express yourself confidently.  Answer first before you explain–not the other way around. And dress appropriately for the job and the company you are applying with.

If you don’t make it, it’s only because the interviewer does not want to set you up for failure at the company, and believes there is a better career opportunity for you elsewhere.

What, in your opinion, is/are the biggest mistake/s jobseekers make?

Some applicants focus and give too much value to the salary, giving priority to short-terms rather than long-term gains. The best way to a rewarding career is going through the right experiences. Endeavor to join a growing company that offers varied opportunities for learning and success, and more room for growth and promotion.

What can a jobseeker do to increase his or her chances of getting hired, both at your company and outside your company?

  • Develop your English skills. You may be brilliant but you need to be able to converse, present and sell your ideas in English, the language of business.
  • Research about the company you are applying with.
  • Always try to express, not impress.
  • Focus on your strengths. Are you a creative person? A people-oriented person? An analytical person? Try to focus on what you do best and get into things that will develop those strengths. At interviews emphasize how your strengths can help the company you are applying with to reach its goals.

Would you have openings that non-college graduates, the differently-abled, and those over 35 can fill? If so, then what are these jobs and what do they require of applicants?

Accenture is an equal opportunity employer so we accept anyone as long as they match our requirements and hurdle our recruitment process. Most of our projects accept second-year college-level or graduates of two-year courses, provided they have at least two years of relevant work experience. We also have a project with hearing-impaired people.

Can you give our readers resume and cover letter advice?

Don’t make cover letters. Recruiters have to read through hundreds of resumes and don’t have time to read cover letters. Keep your resume brief but concise, highlight your strengths; you will have the opportunity to talk about yourself in detail during the interview.

Your best advice for a jobseeker is?

Be yourself. Be honest. Try to think of how your strengths can help the company you’re applying at. Always ask “what’s in it for them” – how can you help the company with, for example, your people skills, creativity, analytical skills, or significant previous work experience.

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